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Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals

by Nirdesh Baral

Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals – A road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse set of 20 diseases and disease groups with a singular commonality: their impact on impoverished communities. Together they affect more than 1 billion people with devastating health, social and economic consequences.

The road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 | Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals sets out global targets for 2030 and milestones to , control, eliminate and eradicate a diverse set of 20 diseases and disease groups, as well as cross-cutting targets aligned with WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work, 2019–2023 and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also proposes strategies for attaining these targets over the next decade. The document is intended to succeed the first road map, published in 2012. The new road map was drafted through an extensive global consultation that began in 2018 and culminated in the document’s endorsement by Member States at the Seventy-third World Health Assembly in November 2020.

Overarching global targets & Cross-cutting targets | Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals

The road map also describes the integrated approaches needed to achieve these targets through crosscutting activities that intersect multiple diseases. It is built on three pillars that will support global efforts to control,
eliminate and eradicate neglected tropical diseases.

Driving towards progress

Since 2010, significant progress has been made. Today, 500 million people no longer require interventions against several NTDs and 40 countries, territories and areas have eliminated at least one disease. Dracunculiasis is on the verge of eradication, with 54 human cases reported in four countries in 2019; lymphatic filariasis and trachoma have been eliminated as a public health problem in 16 and nine countries, respectively; onchocerciasis has been eliminated in four countries in the Region of the Americas; the annual
number of cases of human African trypanosomiasis has fallen from more than 7000 in 2012 to fewer than 1000 in 2018, eclipsing the original target of 2000 cases by 2020; and the number of
new leprosy cases reported globally has continued to decline since 2010 at on average 1% per year after most endemic countries reached elimination as a public health problem, defined as less than one case on treatment per 10 000 population.

Addressing NTDs has contributed to alleviating the human and economic burden they impose on the world’s
poorest communities. It also demonstrates the impact of aligning the work of Member States with that of diverse partners, which during the past eight years has demonstrated two important facts:

(i) NTD interventions are one of the best buys in global public health and yield an estimated net benefit to affected individuals of about US$ 25 per dollar invested in preventive chemotherapy2

(ii) NTDs serve as an important tracer in identifying disparities in progress towards both universal health coverage and equitable access to high-quality health services.

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